N is for Nightmare Fuel!
Some of the writers I've met on the Googleplus social network have taken to daily writing exercises, sometimes with photo-prompts. It's a neat way to get creative juices flowing, even if it pushing something out in one day doesn't always bring out my very best. The first one of these in which I participated (for about 4 days before I got distracted and wandered out of it) was called Nightmare Fuel, the brainchild of a writer going by the name "Bliss Morgan" who thought she could banish her demons by chaining them up with pretty words. There's currently a series of text prompts for poetry in the month of April (NaPoMoFo) and a series of erotic prompts planned for May.
Nightmare Fuel birthed one ebook anthology of macabre short fiction, Cold Shivers, by Matt Champine, available on Amazon.com.
My problem with these is that I tend to take the prompts very non-literally. It's a fun exercise, and encourages daily writing. Included is one of my completed NMF stories, along with the prompt; it's a quick trifle, barely a sketch which could grow into something else if I choose to revisit it. If not, there's value in putting words to paper, even if they don't do quite what you want them to.
The Time Between
Tom slouched through the door at half-past seven, shoulders bent and head down. His dropped his briefcase to the floor with a loud thunk and shrugged out of his jacket. “Honey, I’m home.”
Marta’s voice from the kitchen, “You’re late again. I ate without you.” Beeps from the microwave as he kicked off his loafers and walked into the kitchen. A quick peck on the cheek, grab the plate of spaghetti out of the microwave. He sat down at the kitchen table and began eating while Marta scrubbed pots, emptied the dishwasher, changed the dog’s water.
The spaghetti was still cold.
Tom got up for a tumbler, some icecubes, and a couple fingers of Scotch. Generous fingers.
“How was work, honey?”
“Fine,” between mouthfuls of spaghetti.
“You’re late again.”
“Sorry. Big case coming up. You know that. It’ll be like this for a while.” He spoke to a spot somewhere between his food and her back.
He chewed in silence for a moment. “You wouldn’t believe what John’s new secretary was wearing. I’m so sure she’s screwing him. Or will be soon.”
She shook her head. “Just make sure you don’t screw anyone there. If you do, you may as well just not come home.” A smile flickered across her lips for the barest second. “I’m going to bed.”
By the time Tom finished his food and got into bed, she was already sleeping.
He awoke before dawn, opened his briefcase to pack a sandwich and a bottle of water. The letter was still there. The letter he’d had to sign yesterday. The one that sat in his file. The one that said things like “performance must improve” and “could lead to termination.”
He looked back once at the bedroom door, then headed back out.
"Day 4" represents this being the third day of the NMF project, but I find it evocative on its own; if I return to this, it might come back. We shall see.